If I had a nickel for everytime I had heard the phrase ‘it’s just a phase’ then I’d be heading to America and wondering why I didn’t ask for a pound. Everything with children is apparently a ‘phase’. They are up in the night. It’s a phase, they catch constant colds? Just a phase. They have ginger hair? Just a freakin phase lady. It’s not ALWAYS a phase, sometimes kids just are what they are (and embrace that red hair, ginger haired people are historically cooler and better looking than you, see: Lily Cole, Ed Sheeran and my father in law, cheque in post?).
Why does it have to be placed into a time frame anyway? When we engage in behaviours as adults no one tells us we are just ‘going through a phase’. In fact post age 18 we apparently are fully formed and incapable of going through any type of phase and any behaviour we engage in is an expression of ourselves. When I recently dyed my hair pink I had a mixed response, some loved it, some hated but no one told me, as they did when I was under age 16, that I was just going through a phase. Well, I have some news for you, I was indeed going through a phase, a pink haired phase and I loved it.
It got me thinking what other phases I had been through as an adult and not at all coincidently most of them coincided with my children’s ‘phases’ or ‘periods of time that they displayed twatish behaviour’ as I like to think of them now.
The Desperate for Friends phase
When I became a mum I uncame a person with colleagues, a nine to five or any opportunities for spontaneity post bedtime. As a result normal opportunities for socialising (a tea break, lunch out or after work drinks) were out and strange new opportunities to meet people were in (soft play, walking in the park, singing’the wheels on the bus’ in another flippin’ music group). You get a little desperate to meet people and as a result end up like a fresher at university spouting out the same old questions (‘How old are they?’) over (‘are they your first?’) and over (‘do you drink?’) again. I used to greet my husband with a high five when I got a new number in my phone. They were normally saved under their first name with their kid’s name as the surname as most of the time you never get to know their surname, even though you sure as hell know their favourite nursery rhyme; mine was ‘one man went to mow’ in case you’re interested (jazzy riff). As your baby gets older you become aware that maybe it is indeed just a phase and the only thing you have in common with some of these people is that you had unprotected sex in the same year. As a result you start to get brave enough to lose the desperation and start making friends with people whose company you enjoy rather than the ones whose buggys you want to trial.
The ‘Attachment fear’ phase
This was directly related to my first child’s separation anxiety and included an involuntary shaking of the leg whenever it was clung to. It includes an irrational thought process wherein you imagine your child, aged 18, crying their head off whenever you leave the room and only ever leaving a hair’s breadth between your face and theirs, especially when you are trying to engage in conversation with another adult. Attachment fear can be fuelled by a constant need to abate it, thus trying to leave your child in various different scenarios (supervised- I might add, Attachment fear does not necessarily prelude criminal behaviour). For example, someone who is going through the ‘Attachment fear’ phase may be the first to ask another adult ‘would you please watch Norman for a sec whilst I nip to the toilet’ at a playgroup whilst knowing full well that Norman, who can smell fear and abandonment from any distance within a church hall radius, will scream until they return. The adult, who is going through the attachment fear phase, will spend approx 3 minutes more than necessary in the toilet, stretching the leg that Norman has been attached to for the last 18 months and celebrating a period of Norman noise free time before returning. Adults going through the attachment fear phase will often be found at family gatherings palming Norman off to whoever Norman feels most comfortable with and is often found creeping round rooms saying ‘it’ll be ok as long as he doesn’t see me’.
The ‘I’ve got this nailed’ phase
Normally the shortest of the phases and it often preceded by a child sleeping through the night or starting to nap at less arbitrary times for less arbitrary periods of time. Adults who are going through this phase tend to flick their hair a lot whilst doing usually insurmountable tasks like queuing in the post office. Comes to an abrupt end at any given time, normally due to coughs/colds or teething. Some adults do have a prolonged ‘I’ve got this nailed’ phase, there are multiple reasons for this but the most common ones are: they are (a) arty and crafty (b) drunk or (c) haven’t got children.
The ‘I can’t cope with this’ phase
Precedes above phase. Involves intrusive thoughts such as ‘who was I kidding, I can’t look after my mum’s garden for a week, let alone children for a lifetime’. Often accompanies ‘fear attachment’ phase and can be as brief as 10 minutes whilst you wonder how to remove a toddler from your leg whilst changing a nappy and getting your five year old to stop chanting about ‘poo’ to your next door neighbour. Peaks at bath and story time and fades as soon as children are asleep and you promptly think ‘I’ve got this nailed’ (see above).
Essentially when someone tells you your child is going through a phase, take comfort in it as that is the spirit the comment is intended in. Notice how no one turns round and says ‘it’s just a phase’ to the parents of the child who sleeps through the night or the parents of the child who has just started crawling, although both could well be temporary developments (it would be rather unsporting to tell the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize that they are just going through a phase and you are sure they’ll be back to being their normal arsey self soon). So let’s embrace those positive changes and developments, and as for all the behaviours we don’t like? They’re just a phase. Just make sure you make the same conclusions about my (bad) behaviour.
If you so wish, you beautiful human being, you can vote for me in the Mumsnet Blogging Awards by simply placing your fabulous fingers over this link here. I could give you a proper reason for this but in reality I’m just a really needy person in need of some validation. Lemme know if you do what you are told and I will (a) ask you to have a word with my children and (b) write and thank you. Just in case you need validation too x